Why Everybody Needs God in the Dark + Enter to Win a Free Copy

God in the Dark Sarah Van Diest

Only a handful of years had passed since my divorce when I studied the book of James. My heart was raw, as were my tears. Wet ink melted onto more than one page in my Bible but one verse stood out:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2, 3 [emphasis mine]

 

James says when we face trials, not if. Trials are a given this side of heaven. I recognized how this truth not only beat true for my life, but also for others, for those we love.

 

It’s because of this that I wanted to serve on the launch team for God in the Dark, by Sarah Van Diest. I believe this book puts feet to 2 Corinthians 1:3,4:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 

 

Today’s giveaway offers you the opportunity to share God in the Dark with someone in your life in need of comfort.

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I met Sarah Van Diest at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference several years ago. Her quick smile coupled with an old poetic soul told me we would surely be friends. I am honored to welcome her to our creative community.

God in the Dark by Sarah Van Diest

Guest post by Sarah Van Diest, author of God in the Dark: 31 Devotions to Let the Light Back In.

 

Sarah, what was the first experience that opened your eyes to the power of words? What gave you the idea to send letters to someone who is struggling?

 

These two questions go hand in hand for me. The first gave rise to the second. I fell in love with words and the pictures they created in school. In a class with a teacher who loved words, we learned how to journal and I realized words created a safe place for me. But it wasn’t until I was asked to write letters to people who were going on mission trips with our church when I learned the power those beloved words held to impact others.

We called them Barnabas Letters. For each person on the team, and for each day, those of us who were so inclined wrote a letter of encouragement, which the team packed in their bags for their journey. So each day of the trip, each person had a letter to read. I loved this idea. And then on my first mission trip, around the age of 14, I couldn’t wait for my very own Barnabas Letters to open and read. I loved how each letter was so different. The handwriting, or type, or crayon color, whatever they used to bring their idea of encouragement to the page was like a window into their world. I loved them so much! And I thought about their words all day long.

As I grew, I continued this way of encouraging people in my life, especially when I couldn’t be with them or there was nothing tangible I could do to mend their circumstances. It was out of this practice that the book, God in the Dark, was born.

How the book God in the Dark was birthed from Barnabas Letters @SarahVanDiest Click To Tweet

 

What’s one thing God taught you while writing this book?

 

I used Psalm 119 as the framework for this set of letters and in those verses I was reminded of the blessing the Psalms are. God was so kind to give them to us. They show humanity is such honest light, and we relate. We see a man who feels the pain, even anguish, of this life and who is trying with all his might to remain faithful. That sounds so familiar. And then we see the Father’s faithfulness to him – regardless of the psalmist’s “success” at remaining faithful himself.

I needed this reminder.

 

What has it been like to be on the other side of the publishing road?

 

I’ve been an editor and an agent, but I had never been an author. This was new for me. On the editor side, I was deeply connected with the content of the book, invested in the message and whether it was well conveyed. As an agent, I was committed to my authors. Supporting them was my number one goal and priority. Both of these endeavors were good and worthwhile.

What I had never experienced before in the professional realm was the direct impact of words I had written on the hearts of readers. The way the Lord has already used the work in God in the Dark has been something I have witnessed firsthand in the lives of many on my launch team. I have been in awe throughout the process of this launch. I had no idea.

I am forever grateful for the chance to have this reach into the hearts and lives of fellow sojourners.

{Thank you, Sarah!}

 

Is there some way Sarah and I can pray for you today? Or is there a particular part of the post that speaks to you?

We hope you’ll enter the giveaway for the hardback copy of God in the Dark. Simply leave a comment! The winner, chosen by Random Name Picker, will be notified this Friday, April 6th.

 

 

Sarah Van Diest

Sarah Van Diest is a writer and editor. She’s the mother of two boys, stepmother to three, and wife to David. Sarah wrote this book as letters to a dear friend whose life was turning upside down. She’s done this for years for numerous friend and will continue to, Lord willing. It’s her gift them. It’s hope written down.

 

 

 

 

God in the Dark is available through Tyndale Publishers, Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, and other fine retailers. You can also find God in the Dark on the NEW resources page!

4 Books on My I-Can’t-Wait-To-Read Radar

4 Books on my Radar

I have a heightened sense of appreciation for brave souls who traipse through the what-if, who-me, and can-I-do-this type questions for the sole purpose of helping another through their story. Like, helping wives who desire to fully embrace their God-given role or mother of brides-to-be who long to cling to God while their daughters are preparing to cling to another. Or, perhaps those in uneasy in-between places who need to re-embrace God’s faithfulness or writers desiring to become super-productive.

Two of the four I-can’t-wait-to-read books are recent releases. And two are now available for pre-order. There’s something for those who enjoy the anticipation of a good read as well as those who prefer immediate gratification.

 

Four Books on My I-Can’t-Wait-To-Read Radar

 

Kaitlyn E. Bouchillon // Even if Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the In Between

Even if NotI’ve recently had the pleasure of getting to know Kaitlyn as a fellow Hope Writer. She is a young woman brimming with sage advice.

Why I can’t wait to read this book: Kaitlyn is the real deal and frankly, the book description hooked me from the get-go: “In Even If Not, Kaitlyn Bouchillon invites you to let go of trying to figure out the ending of your story and instead lean into the faithfulness of God. With honest and vulnerable storytelling from her own in-betweens, Kaitlyn encourages you to say – no matter what page of the story you find yourself on – that although you believe God could come through how you’re asking, you’ll trust Him… even if not.”

 

C. S. Lakin // Crank it Out! The Surefire Way to Become a Super-Productive Writer

Crank it outCrank it Out! finds itself on my list for both noble and selfish reasons. {Don’t judge} Noble, because I’ve read her work in Writer’s Digest as well as a poetry forum and love it. Selfish, because after working on my e-book {more info coming soon!} Brian said we would need to hire a housekeeper if I wrote another one. Turns out, I actually plan to write several more so it’s a must that I become more super productive. #bringonthehousekeeper

Why I can’t wait to read this book: I savor C. S. Lakin’s voice. It’s unique, succinct, and I’ve yet to read anything she’s written without learning something valuable for my own writing journey. And, I obviously need to crank out future books in a more timely and orderly way. Oh, and did I mention it’s only $.99 on Kindle?

 

Leigh Ann Thomas // Ribbons, Lace, and Moments of Grace…Inspiration for Mothers-of-the-Bride

Ribbons, Lace, and Moments of GraceRibbons, Lace, and Moments of Grace will release on March 28th but you can pre-order now.

Why I can’t wait to read this book: I had the pleasure of getting to know Leigh Ann a little better last year at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She is lovely and oh so gracious. As a fellow contributor to Almost an Author, I can attest to the fact that she’s quite the cheerleader as well. I’m not Leigh Ann’s target reader for this book as I was a mother-of-the-groom⎯twice. But her Barnabas-like way of encouraging others makes this book a must-read for all mother-of-the-brides.

 

Jen Weaver // A Wife’s Secret to Happiness: Receiving, Honoring, and Celebrating
God’s Role for You in Your Marriage

A Wife's Secret of HappinessOnce again, the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference played matchmaker. Dee Dee Parker and I had the pleasure of meeting Jen back when she was expecting her sweet boy. We had no doubt that God had major plans for her writing.

Why I can’t wait to read this book: Jen is spunky, engaging, and approachable⎯as is her writing. And regardless of how many anniversaries I’ve celebrated with Brian {27 this October!} I want my role as his wife to be one that brings God glory.

Here’s a quick blurb on Jen’s book by Latan Murphy.

 

Do you have a favorite book your reading radar? Or is their one above that sparks your interest? Please take a moment to share in the comment section. I always enjoy hearing from you!

 

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3 Books I’m Reading this Winter {And Why You’ll Want to Read Them Too}

Winter read
I love reading year-round but especially so in winter.

Everything about the season woos even the nonchalant reader into its web. Frigid breezes, barren branches, and darker days all invite us to come in, bundle up, light the logs, and pour a cup of tea. What better way to answer the invite than with a book in hand?

 

3 Favorite Books This Winter
The three books I’m reading this winter are above average, one in particular. Let’s begin there.

 

Jesus in the Beanstalk…Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life, by Lori Roeleveld.

 

Jesus in the BeanstalkDon’t let the clever fairy-tale inspired title fool you. This book isn’t for fluff-seekers. It’s for those who, like me, have grown weary of living in a land of giants. Yes, our culture offers a plethora of its own giants but I’m convinced giant slaying begins at home. Every giant-slayer first requires the Word, as Lori points out, but this book is the second thing I read during my time with the Lord. Sometimes it’s a full chapter, other times just a paragraph. It’s not a book to gulp down but to savor. Her questions at the end of each chapter often marinate in my mind throughout the day. Add Lori’s sense of humor to the mix, and you hold a book that will motivate you to pick up a nearby rock and slip out your sling. I can’t say enough about this book and its impact on my life.

One fave quote: “It’s important for Christians not just to believe in God but also to believe God, trust what he says enough to obey him. The enemy has been clever to convince us that what God offers is dry and boring–and it is if we allow the truth to remain on the surface. But if we bury it deep in the soil of our souls and expose it to the light and the living water of Jesus Christ, we find ourselves clinging to the true Vine, Jesus Christ (John 15). We discover that we, too, are giant-killers.”

 

The Story of With…A Better Way to Live, Love, & Create, by Allen Arnold

 

The Story of WithThe Story of With may have never crossed my radar except for Lynn Blackburn’s excellent review on Edie Melson’s, The Write Conversation. {Thank you, Lynn}

The first and last part of the book is non-fiction. He unfolds a story illustrating his points in between, which I admit to skipping. I’m sorry. I’m a shoot-it-to-me kind of girl. When I want a novel I’ll read Lynn’s or Edie’s. A quick flip to the back proved to be gold. So many relevant nuggets. For me, the main takeaway is that we often rush off to do God’s work instead of inviting the Holy Spirit into the creative process.

One fave quote: “You can experience a sense of expectancy in the midst of interruptions, knowing the unplanned can lead to something better than anything you could have planned. Imagine stepping into your relationships and creativity with a power that isn’t limited to your solutions or strength?”

 

 

Fierce On The Page…Become the Writer You Were Meant To Be and Succeed On Your Own Terms,
by Sage Cohen

 

Fierce on the PageMy first introduction to author and poet Sage Cohen was her book, “Writing the Life Poetic”. It remains a staple on my shelf. So imagine my delight when I learned of her latest release, Fierce on the Page. The book was still warm when it arrived in my mailbox. Yep, it was hot off the press. With 75 brief but brilliant chapters on using ferocity to transform your craft, there is something for every writer.

One fave quote: “Writing can teach us who we are and what we are called to say. You become the person who could write the poems, as Stanley Kunitz advises, through the writing of the poems–and the stories and articles and essays. Doing what is true for you is the path to becoming your own best expert.”

 

 

I’d love to hear your process when reading more than one book at a time. For me, I use Lori’s book most days during my time with the Lord and on other days, I pepper my time with Allen’s. I carry Sage’s book in my purse, snatching extra moments as they come my way.

What are you reading this winter? And I have to ask: Coffee or tea?

**The Story of With is only $2.99 on Kindle right now!

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10 Quotes to Inspire a Grace-Paced Life

10 Quotes to Inspire A Grace-Paced Life

Let’s begin with a disclaimer. The Baker household has experienced anything but a grace-paced life in recent months.

Prepping our hundred-year-old home to sell has taken on a life of itself. By the time this post goes live the house should finally be on the market.

Perhaps it’s because of the chaotic nature of life that I was immediately drawn to Alan Fadling’s, “An Unhurried Life…Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest” highlighted on Emily P. Freeman’s site. Or it could be that at the core of my very being I desire above all else to be more like Jesus in both rest and play.

In An Unhurried Life, there are eleven chapters highlighting topics such as productivity, temptation, caring, praying, resting, suffering, maturing and spiritual practices. Today, I’m sharing two fistfuls of favorite excerpts…and I’m only on page 46. {I wanted to rev up my reading skills so I could finish the book in its entirety before posting.} Yep, this book was written for me. Maybe you’ll see hints of your own hurry below.

Ready to be inspired? Here are my top ten quotes of An Unhurried Life (so far).
  • Told to John Ortberg during a transition in his ministry life: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
  • “Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.”
  • “I feel hurried inside even when nothing actually urgent is on my schedule. Hurry has become a habit: I find myself stuck in emergency mode.”
  • “I realize that an unhurried life is not a lazy life. In fact, it can be the exact opposite. Jesus was unhurried, but he was not lazy He was engaged, hardworking, purposeful, and conscientious.”
  • “I’m aware that God’s great commandment to us isn’t ‘Get more things done,’ but to love him with the whole of our energies, capacities, and passions to extend that love to others. And love isn’t rushed.”
  • “God is never in a hurry.”
  • “Being unhurried does not mean being unresponsive to divine nudges. Being unhurried enables us to notice those nudges and to respond.”
  • “I don’t think I’ll find my deepest joy in the number of people who liked something I said or did. I’m coming to believe that my greatest joy will be being part of an extended community of men and women with whom I’ve shared a journey with Jesus, living out his life in our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces and schools, and the church communities where God has planted us.”
  • “Despite Jesus’ example, I find it a continual temptation to do things that will get a lot of people excited about what I’m doing⎯and get them excited now!”
  • “Do our conversations about ministry revolve around growing numbers of participants, successful programs or other easily measured outcomes? Or do we tell stories about particular people who are responding to Jesus, stories of seeds of gospel truth sown in people’s hearts that will grow into the fruit of Christlikeness?”
Now that’s a lot of unhurried goodness. Wouldn’t you agree?

All the above quotes struck a chord in me but the second one pressed in a little deeper. A disordered heart? I know it’s true. I also know I can’t wait until life settles down to take it before the Lord and wrestle through the necessary changes.

A grace-paced life can be embraced even when everything else feels like it’s falling apart.

Did a particular quote speak to you? I’d love for you to share it in the comment section if so. We hurried-prone peeps need to know we’re not alone.

An Unhurried Life{Click image to order.}

5 Bloggers Who Are Sure to Inspire You

inspireTo inspire another is a beautiful thing.

And these five bloggers consistently bring it. Obviously they’re not alone when it comes to inspiring so watch for more bloggers to be highlighted here in the future.

But today, I’m delighted to introduce you to the first five bloggers brimming with inspiration:

 

 

 

 

One-5

Beth Saadati // Bittersweet: Because Sweet Still Follows Bitter…Even in Loss. This is a blog no mother ever wants to create. It’s vulnerable. It’s heart-wrenching, and yet quietly inspiring. You see, it’s a story focused on the aftermath of Beth’s 14 year old daughter, Jenna, who committed suicide three years ago. She speaks of loss, her words as heavy as her heart. But Beth’s story, above all, radiates great Light and insight for parents and teens.

2

Merissa // Little House Living – I admit she had me at the vintage Mason jar on her blog header. Frugal living tips, garden tours, and recipes from scratch soon followed and I was hooked. I hope to begin embracing my own simple kind of rhythm as we move forward in our plans to trek across town to the foothills.

3

Helene // Helene-In-Between – When Bloglovin’ pops up in my inbox, I’m scanning the list for this site. Boundless blogging tips for writers, and non-bloggers are sure to enjoy her travel posts. Beautiful pictures, timely tips, and fun giveaways will inspire you for days to come. {You’ll definitely want to follow her on Pinterest.}

4

Kenzie // Hello Neverland – Everything about Kenzie’s site inspires — the white space, the clean lines, the content. It’s all there and more. Some of the subjects covered on this site: Faith, Writing/Journaling, Intentional Living, Clean Living, Creativity, etc. Her recent book review on More: Find Your Personal Calling and Live Life to the Fullest Measure by Todd Wilson is excellent.

5

themoreofless

Joshua Becker // Becoming Minimalist – “Let’s be known for the lives we live. Not the things we buy.’ His words on this site, as well as his books, are simple, to the point, and a tad convicting. Okay, who am I kidding? For people like me, it’s more than a tad, but I need to receive it in bits so it’s not overwhelming. His latest book, The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own has arrived in my mailbox. Now to find it under all my half-packed boxes. 🙂

 

 

Have you visited any of the sites above? Do you have a favorite blogger who inspires you? I’d love to hear more! Who knows? They may end up on the next blog featuring inspiring bloggers. Please share in the comment section.

 

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Three Books I’m Loving Right Now and Why

by Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

My name is Cathy Baker and I am a book snob. 

Okay, perhaps snob is a little harsh, but I am a bit of a  persnickety reader.

I admit I’m not an avid reader of fiction, and when I do read it, the pages turn slower. I prefer the feel of a book in my hands over the strain on my eyes reading my e-books, but I still have plenty of those as well. I prefer new books over used ones. They smell better. Is that bad? I tend to buy books based on covers and Amazon reviews. And finally, I prefer to purchase books instead of borrowing from the library only because I love to mark up my books. Fiction or non-fiction, we never know when an idea will spark, or when we’ll run across a new word we want to add to our ever-growing notebook of words. {Okay, maybe snob isn’t such a stretch after all.}

Finally, I refuse to read (or finish) anything that doesn’t hold my attention. Life’s too short. For this reason, and many more, I’m especially excited to share what I’m reading these days, mainly due to the first one.

Finding Grace, by Allison Green Martin

Allison and her uber-talented mom, Jane, attended our local writer’s group a few years back {when this book was in the works}. They drove from NC (an hour) to attend so their dedication to doing the work was never in doubt. I was excited to be a part of her critique group for this book and you can only imagine my surprise when I discovered my name in her acknowledgements section! {Thank you again, Allison!} We never know what blessings will come from being a part of a critique group. 🙂

Finding Grace, Allison’s debut novel, is one of those books you can’t put down, which is saying something from a sparse fiction reader. Her attention to details and the fluidity of the story is superb. You are sure to fall in love with “Grace”. I especially love the fact that the novel is set in Shady Grove, NC. Bravo, Allison!


The Simple Living Handbook…Discover the Joy of a De-Cluttered Life, by Loriless Lippincott

With a tremendous decluttering effort on the horizon, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the book but it was the word “Simple” that initially caught my eye.

As a sentimental semi-hoarder {did I just admit that?} I found a few pointers especially convicting enlightening:
“You are not your stuff and your stuff does not define you. Your stuff is not your memories {Ouch!} Your stuff is not your friend–he or she may have been with you or given it to you, but your friend will not vanish as a person if you get rid of the stuffed poodle.” Nothing really new here, but it’s a good (and quick) read.


The Life Giving Home…Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming, by Sally and Sarah Clarkson

Okay, so this one just arrived in the mail last week, but I had to include it. I may not be able to share what I’ve read or learned, but I can give you the reasoning behind this purchase.

I love this line on the back cover: Secrets to making home the place your family longs to be. At first glance, I felt it may not be a good fit since our kids are now grown with kids of their own, but our season in life doesn’t diminish my desire to make my loved ones feel loved.

This introvert has much to learn so I was delighted to stumble across this find, especially one with such rave reviews (5 stars). 🙂

Okay, your turn! What are you reading these days? Do you think you’ll try one or more of the above books?

And don’t forget….

 

 

 

If you’ve never tried Herbal Rose Tea, you’re in for a treat!
Imagine sipping tea in a rose garden. {No fancy gloves required!} Because this is one of my all-time favorite teas, I had to share a canister with you in this month’s giveaway.
To enter, simply leave a comment on today’s post sharing your favorite flavor of tea, or ways I can pray for you, or both.
{I’m assuming you’re a tea drinker if you’ve read this far.} Next
Wednesday, March 2, I’ll announce the winner of the random drawing done
via Random Name Picker.
For each comment you leave between now and next Monday’s post, I will
add your name to the list for drawing. Thank you and good luck!

 

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